Google had a lot of new hardware to show off at its October 4 event, but there are also a lot of new software features coming to Google Home that flew under the radar. Let's talk about them.
Google's been rather busy as of late with the announcements of the Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL, Home Mini, Home Max, Pixel Buds, Pixelbook, and Google Clips. All of this new hardware looks very enticing, and while Google is doing its best to turn itself into a hardware company, its true prowess will always lie with software.
Quite a few software features for the Google Home lineup were announced alongside all of Google's shiny new hardware, and in case they slipped by you, here's a breakdown of what to expect:
Changing Google Home's voice
Since its launch this time last year, the Google Assistant on Google Home has only spoken in a female voice. It's one of the more natural-sounding AI voices around, but if you want to switch things up a bit, you can now change the sound of the Assistant's voice from a female's to a male's. This doesn't alter Home's functionality, but if you want to inject some more testosterone into your Assistant's pitch, you now have the option to do so.
Games and learning activities for families
Google recently made its Family Link service widely available for families in the United States, giving parents a host of services and tools for helping to manage their kids' time spent looking at screens. Children's accounts created with Family Link will soon be supported on Google Home, and along with this, a variety of new family activities will also be coming to the smart speaker.
More than 50 of these activities will be available, and by saying "Ok Google, let's play a game" or "Ok Google, let's learn", parents and kids can play through Micky Mouse and Justice League-themed adventures, learn about astronomy with Space Trivia, and even listen to classic stories like Snow White.
Many of us find that we develop certain routines that we naturally do throughout the day, and soon, your Google Home/Assistant will be able to make your routines even more efficient. If you consistently turn on specific lights throughout your house and always set the room at a certain temperature, saying "Ok Google, I'm home" as you're walking through the front door will turn on your desired lights, warm up the house to just the right temperature, and anything else that you want to be triggered with that command.
Turning Google Home into an intercom
Although yelling downstairs for your kids to come up for dinner technically gets the job done, Google wants you to be able to be able to round up the family for quality time without straining your vocal chords beforehand.
Thanks to a new feature called "Broadcast", you'll be able to say "Ok Google, broadcast: dinner will be ready in 10 minutes" to have this message played throughout all Google Homes throughout your house. Broadcast will also work remotely from your phone, meaning that you can say something like "Ok Google, broadcast: coming home now" to let everyone at home know that you'll be back soon.
Deep integration with Nest products
Last but not least, Google Home is also getting some serious integration with Nest's lineup of smart home gadgets. Starting now, saying "Ok Google, show me the entryway on my TV" will cast a livestream of your Nest Camera onto your Android TV or television with Chromecast built-in.
As if that wasn't good enough, next year Google Home will work hand-in-hand with the Nest Hello's Familiar Faces function. When someone rings the doorbell on Nest Hello and the built-in camera recognizes who's at the door, all Google Homes will then broadcast an audio message to let you know who's there.
Find your phone
Trying to track down a lost phone is never fun, but this ordeal is about to get a lot easier if you have a Google Home. Currently rolling out now to all users, you can now say "Ok Google, ring my phone" or "Ok Google, where's my phone" to have Google Home play an audio tune on your device so you can quickly locate it. Better yet, Google Home will force your phone to ring as loud as possible even if it's on Do Not Disturb or the volume is turned down.
When will all of this be available?
Unfortunately, actual release dates for a lot of these features aren't very clear. Google says that the majority of them are "coming soon", but that's all we know for the time being. When they do eventually arrive, we'll be sure to let you know so you can start playing around with them as soon as possible.
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